Cricket, often considered a gentleman’s game, has had its fair share of controversies throughout its rich history. From match-fixing scandals to heated on-field altercations and off-field misdemeanors, the sport has witnessed some truly shocking moments. In this article, we delve into the top ten most controversial moments in cricket history, where the integrity of the game was questioned, and players found themselves embroiled in controversy.
1. Pakistan Spot-Fixing (2010)
In 2010, Pakistan cricket was tumbled by a spot-fixing scandal during a Test match against England at Lord’s. Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif, and captain Salman Butt were found guilty of match-fixing as they were seen deliberately bowling no balls and dropping catches. The 18-year-old Mohammad Amir, along with Salman Butt and Asif, was banned for 5 years from International and Domestic Cricket, including a prison sentence.
2. Sandpaper Gate
During the third Test match between Australia and South Africa at Cape Town in 2018, the cricketing world was shocked by the “Sandpaper Gate” scandal. Captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner, and opener Cameron Bancroft were caught tampering with the ball using sandpaper. The incident led to Steve Smith and Warner getting banned from any cricket for 12 months and a 9-month suspension for Cameron Bancroft. The Australian media and fans severely criticized the trio for days as they brought massive disgrace to the country.
3. Monkey Gate
In 2008, the infamous “Monkey Gate” incident occurred during a Test Match between India and Australia in Sydney. Harbhajan Singh was accused of racially abusing Andrew Symonds, leading to a heated exchange between the players. Harbhajan was initially banned, but the decision was later overturned due to lack of evidence, leaving a bitter taste in the cricketing world.
4. Kohli Vs Gambhir and Naveen
On this list of the top 10 most controversial moments in cricket history, the famous altercation involving Virat Kohli, Gambhir, and Naveen Ul Haq takes fourth place. The incident took place during the 43rd match of IPL 2023 between RCB and LSG. A fierce exchange of words took place on the field between Virat Kohli and Naveen. Following the match, as the players were exchanging handshakes. Kohli found himself embroiled in another argument, this time involving not only Naveen but also Gautam Gambhir, the coach of LSG’s team.
5. Afridi Ball Tampering
In 2010, during an ODI match between Australia and Pakistan in Perth, Shahid Afridi was caught on camera biting the ball in an attempt to alter its condition. The act of ball tampering led to a two-match ban for Afridi, including a fine as well.
6. Sreesanth-Harbhajan Fight
During an IPL match in 2008 between Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) and Mumbai Indians (MI), a heated exchange between Sreesanth and Harbhajan turned physical. Harbhajan was seen slapping Sreesanth, resulting in a ban for Harbhajan and a dent in the spirit of the game.
7. Tim Paine Sexting Scandal
In a shocking off-field incident, Australia’s Test captain Tim Paine faced a sexting scandal in 2021. Leaked messages from 2017 revealed inappropriate conversations with a female co-worker, leading to severe criticism, which forced Tim Paine to give up his captaincy just before Ashes 2021-2022.
8. Attack on Sri Lankan Team
In 2009, during a Test series against Pakistan, the Sri Lankan cricket team’s bus was attacked by terrorists near the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. The incident resulted in injuries to several players and officials, leading to the suspension of international cricket in Pakistan for several years.
9. India Vs Sri Lanka 1996 World Cup
In the 1996 World Cup semi-final match between India and Sri Lanka, held in Kolkata, the Indian team’s spectacular collapse from 98 for one wicket to 120 for eight while chasing a score of 252 resulted in the home crowd’s frustration boiling over into a riot. The angered spectators began hurling bottles and plastic bags, even igniting the stands. Amidst this chaos, the match couldn’t be completed, prompting the match referee, Clive Lyold, to declare Sri Lanka the winner. This incident represents a dark chapter in the history of Indian cricket.
10. Shane Warne’s Drug Scandal
In 2003, Australian spin legend Shane Warne tested positive for a banned substance and was subsequently banned for one year, and he was also sent home from the 2003 ODI World Cup. The incident shocked cricket fans worldwide, tarnishing the reputation of one of the game’s greatest players.